MANILA, Aug 11 (Mabuhay) — With the appointment of key officials that will comprise the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople said the agency will now become a home for overseas Filipino workers as well as their families.

In a statement Wednesday, Ople announced the name of new appointees describing them as “a mix of seasoned government officials and new faces who share a commitment to serve our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)”.

“Together, we will make the DMW a secure home for our OFWs and their families,” she added.

The new senior DMW officials include lawyers Bernard Olalia and Hans Leo Cacdac, who previously served as administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), respectively.

Olalia is the new Undersecretary for Licensing and Adjudication Services while he remains as officer-in-charge (OIC) of the POEA until such time that the DMW is deemed fully constituted upon the approval of its 2023 budget.

Olalia has been with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the POEA for more than five years.

Meanwhile, Cacdac, who has been in DOLE and OWWA for a total of 21 years, will serve as Undersecretary for Welfare and Foreign Employment and will oversee the department’s Aksyon Fund, which will be used to help distressed OFWs in various countries.

The department’s Undersecretary for Finance and Internal Affairs is Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, whom Ople said, is another seasoned official who has been in the civil service for 31 years.

Velasco-Allones was the former head of the Tourism Promotion Board prior to her latest appointment, and also served as a former DOLE Assistant Secretary during the Arroyo administration.

Other appointees include fresh names in the government service like lawyer Patricia Yvonne Caunan, an advocate for migrant workers’ rights and gives free legal assistance and advice to OFWs in various forums.

She will be the DMW Undersecretary for Policy and International Cooperation.

Newly appointed OWWA chief Arnell Ignacio previously served as deputy OWWA administrator.

He assumed the post as OWWA deputy administrator in September 2021, and has also worked in OWWA in 2018 but left the post due to personal reasons.

Ignacio is well aware of migrant workers’ plight having been an OFW himself for many years.

Other “new faces” in the DMW include Venecio Legaspi, a former OFW for 29 years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia who will serve as Assistant Secretary for Reintegration; Jerome Alcantara as the Assistant Secretary for Land-based services and concurrently Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary; Levinson Alcantara as Assistant Secretary for Pre-employment Services; Felicitas Bay as Assistant Secretary for Migrant Workers Welfare Services; Francis Ron de Guzman as Assistant Secretary for Licensing and Adjudication Services; Jerome Pampolina as Assistant Secretary Sea-based Services, and Violeta Illescas as Assistant Secretary for Internal Management and Administration.

“This mix of familiar faces and new names reflects our desire for continuity and innovation. The DMW’s “dream team” is now in place, and we vow to serve our OFWs faithfully and with utmost professionalism,” Ople said. (MNS)

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